The right mix
05/13/2009 10:00 PM
The neighborhoods that surround the empty parcel of land at the southeast corner of Madison and Western avenues are remarkably diverse. There are hundreds of families who formerly lived in the Henry Horner Homes and Rockwell Gardens in the area, renters in East Garfield Park, longtime homeowners living south of the Eisenhower in Tri-Taylor and new upper middle class residents living east of Western Avenue.
Given this spectrum of incomes and interests, we endorse building a Pete’s Fresh Market at Madison and Western. Pete’s is a family-owned local chain that seems, based on the visits we’ve made to its stores and conversations we’ve had with people who regularly shop there, unique among the full-service grocery options in greater Chicagoland.
The basic goods — produce, meats, dairy and bakery items —Pete’s offers are high quality, displayed with care, wonderfully diverse (we found collard greens, coconut water, pickled okra, herring and sourdough bread on a recent visit) and, most crucially, priced affordably. This is the right mix for this part of the Near West Side.
In the end, though, Pete’s needs to choose Madison and Western as much as the city (or the alderman or community residents) can choose it. We hope the presentation Pete’s reps gave last week at Crane High School turns into a genuine proposal the city and the developer get behind. We encourage both entities, as well as Ald. Fioretti, to actively work with Pete’s to bring them to the site.
The debate about the grocery store has been heated over the years, and we would caution residents not to see the grocery store selection process as a zero-sum game. Jewel and Food4Less both have their strengths, and it wouldn’t mean the end of the neighborhood if either of those stores were selected. Ultimately the greater Near West Side is going to host a wide range of retail, and there is certainly room for multiple food outlets in the neighborhood.
But it’s clear to us that Pete’s is the standout in this bunch. We’d like to see the city and developer of Madison and Western move to lasso them into the site before their interest wanes. Building a store there — an idea considered for nearly nine years now — simply must be a priority. And that store should be Pete’s.